Articles | Volume 8, issue 3
Research article
19 Jun 2012
Research article |  | 19 Jun 2012

Impact of postglacial warming on borehole reconstructions of last millennium temperatures

V. Rath, J. F. González Rouco, and H. Goosse

Abstract. The investigation of observed borehole temperatures has proved to be a valuable tool for the reconstruction of ground surface temperature histories. However, there are still many open questions concerning the significance and accuracy of the reconstructions from these data. In particular, the temperature signal of the warming after the Last Glacial Maximum is still present in borehole temperature profiles. It is shown here that this signal also influences the relatively shallow boreholes used in current paleoclimate inversions to estimate temperature changes in the last centuries by producing errors in the determination of the steady state geothermal gradient. However, the impact on estimates of past temperature changes is weaker. For deeper boreholes, the curvature of the long-term signal is significant. A correction based on simple assumptions about glacial–interglacial temperature changes shows promising results, improving the extraction of millennial scale signals. The same procedure may help when comparing observed borehole temperature profiles with the results from numerical climate models.